Taking the Fear Out of Failure

What’s your attitude when it comes to experiencing setbacks and failure in life? Does the fear of failure paralyze you, preventing your from tackling new, ambitious goals? When you experience a failure, do you curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth for three months while listening to your favorite blues album, or do you view it as a learning experience and jump back onto the proverbial horse?

How does your team and organization manage failure? How an organization views and manages failure has a profound impact on its culture and its ability to innovate. Which is why the leaders at Pixar Studios spend a lot of time thinking about failure. Following up on last week’s look at Pixar’s innovative culture, here are a few insights on how Pixar views failure, from the book, Creativity, Inc.:

  • Leaders in an organization must be open about their own failures to create a climate where people aren’t afraid to fail.
  • Assess how people react to failure: Do they turn inward and use it as a learning experience, or do they seek to blame others?
  • When experimentation is seen as necessary and productive, not as a waste of time, people enjoy their work more and fear failure less.
  • Embrace the idea that every failure brings you one step closer to a better idea.
  • Take a scientific approach to failure and remember that even negative findings are valuable.
  • The concept of aiming for “zero failures” when undertaking a creative endeavor is counterproductive.
  • Leaders must uncouple fear from failure; one of the number one antidotes to fear of failure is trust.
  • When you embark on an innovative project, leaders need to send the message that they expect failures along the way.
  • Avoid the mindset of “We failed so we did something wrong” and the mindset “We succeeded so we did everything right.” Neither is necessarily true nor helpful when reviewing a project.
  • When it comes to the role of failure in the creative process, failure isn’t a necessary evil, it’s necessary!

Michael Kerr, Humor at Work.   Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame business speaker and very funny motivational speaker.  www.MikeKerr.com

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